Shrinking of the mighty Colorado

Fourteen-years-and-counting of continuous drought bodes ill for Lake Mead’s water supply

The Colorado River—the only major river in the southwestern U.S.—is falling victim to 14 years of continuous drought.

Named early last year by Washington, D.C.-based conservation organization American Rivers as the nation’s most endangered waterway, the once mightily flowing Colorado River (pictured) has shrunk in some places “to a murky brown trickle,” according to The New York Times. With current drought conditions projected to be “the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished,” as the article put it, federal authorities are going to decrease this year, for the first time ever, the amount of water flowing into Lake Mead—which supplies nearly all of Las Vegas’ water—from the Lake Powell reservoir further upstream.

By next year, Lake Mead’s water could be rationed to the states of Nevada and Arizona, which would be another first.